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5 Reasons Network Detection and Response Is a Must for Any Organization

Michael Clark

August 8, 2023

Network detection and response (NDR) is a relatively new market category in cybersecurity. This leads to many misconceptions, not least of which is that NDR is a “nice-to-have,” but not necessary. In fact, NDR solutions provide capabilities that endpoint detection and response (EDR) and security information and event management (SIEM) tools lack, which makes NDR an indispensable addition to any organization’s security tech stack. Read on to learn five reasons why.

1. NDR Picks Up Where EDR and SIEM Leave Off

Many organizations believe they don’t need NDR because they already have EDR and SIEM. While it’s true that EDR and SIEM provide essential visibility into endpoints and logs, both tools have their limitations. In fact, NDR complements EDR and SIEM by filling the gaps of each.

EDR solutions require agents to be deployed on each endpoint they monitor, but not every endpoint can support an agent. For instance, internet of things (IoT) devices often are incapable of running an agent, many mobile devices are incompatible with agents, and medical devices may be prohibited from having agents installed by law. Not to mention the privacy concerns associated with installing agents on the increasing number of personal devices allowed under bring your own device (BYOD) policies. Moreover, sophisticated attackers can bypass EDR by taking advantage of these agentless devices. But advanced NDR solutions don’t use agents. Instead, they monitor traffic in real time and keep track of the ways endpoints, workloads, and services communicate with each other over time, allowing security teams to detect anomalous behavior other solutions miss.

SIEM tools rely on logs, which can be extremely useful when investigating an incident, but sophisticated attackers can delete logs, leaving no trace of their activities. But no matter their techniques, attackers still must communicate across the network. NDR solutions use network taps to analyze all network traffic down to the packet level, leaving attackers with nowhere to hide.

2. NDR Helps Secure Cloud and Hybrid Environments

Now that major cloud service providers (CSPs) have introduced native packet mirroring services, NDR solutions work just as well in the cloud as they do on-premises. Since nearly every cloud asset uses the network to communicate, network telemetry data is an invaluable source of information for monitoring, analysis, threat detection, and investigation. In addition to packets, best-in-class NDR solutions allow you to ingest and analyze flow logs, AWS DNS logs, and dozens of protocols so you can monitor infrastructure that was previously difficult to observe, like serverless functions.

Firewalls and endpoint detection tools can’t stop every threat from accessing your network through the cloud. That’s where the east-west visibility provided by NDR comes in. Advanced NDR solutions can rapidly identify post-compromise behaviors that indicate reconnaissance, lateral movement, privilege escalation, and more. NDR is also useful for a variety of cloud and hybrid use cases, including container security and secure cloud migration.

3. NDR Detects Threats Hidden in Encrypted Traffic

Encryption can be a double-edged sword. It’s increasingly required under various regulatory schemes and updates to Microsoft Active Directory have made applying encryption much simpler. That’s great news for many organizations. But it can also obfuscate data defenders rely on to detect and respond to advanced attacks. Not to mention that skilled adversaries can “live off the land” and hide their tracks by using defenders’ own tools and encryption against them.

The best NDR solutions leverage out-of-band decryption and support for a variety of encryption protocols to uncover threats hidden in encrypted traffic, like ransomware or “living off the land” attacks. This allows defenders to analyze traffic from every device and service communicating on the network and generate real-time insights without impacting network performance.

4. There’s No Zero Trust Without NDR

The network and packet-level visibility provided by top NDR and NAV (network analysis and visibility) solutions is essential to zero trust security, but you don’t have to take our word for it. In “The Forrester Wave™: Network Analysis and Visibility, Q2 2023,” Senior Analyst Heath Mullins writes, “There can be no Zero Trust without visibility into what’s happening inside networks.”

Here’s why:

Zero trust requires organizations to collect as much information as possible about the current state and security posture of assets, network infrastructure, and communications across their enterprises; to continually verify each user, device, application, and transaction on their networks; and to use dynamic policies to authenticate devices and users on a per-session basis, according to the CISA Zero Trust Maturity Model. Only a leading NDR/NAV solution like Reveal(x)–that leverages strategic out-of-band decryption, processes full packets, and takes advantage of cloud-scale machine learning–can automatically discover, classify, and passively monitor the security posture of all devices and communications on a network in real time so that organizations can make informed, policy-driven access decisions.

5. Packet-Level Visibility Benefits Security and IT Operations Teams

Your organization’s network is the highest fidelity source of truth about potential security threats and performance issues, but that truth is only useful if you can see it. NDR solutions capable of providing real-time, packet-level traffic inspection are a boon to both security and IT operations teams. For ITOps, this visibility makes diagnosing network issues and optimizing performance much easier. Security teams, meanwhile, can leverage this powerful insight to identify potential attacks, investigate incidents, and facilitate responses quickly and efficiently.

If You’re Not Using NDR, You’re Missing Out

Advanced threats require advanced defenses. Sophisticated attackers are increasingly using tactics like supply-chain compromises and zero-day exploits to evade detection. And as mentioned above, they often cover their tracks by erasing logs and disabling agents. But they still need to communicate over the network. The network is as close to the ground truth as you can get, and attackers can’t shut it off. NDR lets you use this to your advantage so your security team can efficiently detect and respond to threats they might miss otherwise.

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